Sunday, October 4, 2009

Elation, Anguish in Paradise

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The difficulty with flying from Baltimore to San Juan is that the best flight option leaves at 8:15 a.m. It's a four-hour flight and wouldn't you know we found out on arrival that Puerto Rico isn't exactly Big Ten Network country. Ergo, my wife and I saw precisely none of the Michigan-Michigan State football game.

Thank goodness for internet-capable cell phones, and for a certain couple we met Saturday afternoon on the streets of Old San Juan.

She was dressed as a typical tourist, a sun dress with a hat and sunglasses far too big for her face. He was indistinguishable from every other cargo short-and-cap American but for a big blue shirt with maize letters spelling "MICHIGAN" stitched on. So I did the only thing I could do.

"Hey, do you happen to know who won the game today?"

His wife smiled broadly, he winced in pain and started the story. "Well, you see, Michigan tied it up in the 4th quarter..."

"... and MSU won 26-20," his wife interrupted.

At that, my wife went ecstatic. I'm trying to play it cool with a composed look, she's almost jumping out of her teva sandals. So Michigan fan recants the loss, blow by blow, and we reminice about painful losses on both sides to try and make him feel a bit better about having just delivered wonderful news to a pair of now-deliriously happy Spartans.

His wife explained that she's a Spartan too, as is their only child. He, despite going to Western, is a life-long Wolverine fan. I almost felt bad for the guy, surrounded by Spartans and wounded by a final score that would haunt him for the next 365 days. I'm fairly sure that the rum Puerto Rico is so famous for will help him soothe the pain.

I went for some of that rum too. A toast to victory was in order.

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